Not Even Room

old-fishing-nets

What if we dared enough to take God at His Word?

What if we stopped succumbing to satan’s lies long enough to open our eyes?

If we stepped out in faith

On the Words of One who cannot, ever, fail.

And made our stand there?

It was a number of days after the crucifixion of the God-man and a thousand hopes.

Confused disciples returned to stiff nets and barnacled fishing boats, three years seemingly wasted. They had left all to follow a rabbi who spoke in mind-boggling parables and kingdom-words that turned upside down everything they’d ever known.

But then he was dead…or did he now live? The eleven in a room had seen him, but nothing was happening. If He was alive, and more than a vision of wistful hearts, a dream that made them glad for a moment before it vanished, why wasn’t He driving out Rome? No kingdom was coming. The turning over of all their dreams was for nothing.

So they slogged through silty waters that lapped cool up their calves and pushed out creaking, reeking vessels and went fishing. It was always wait, wait, wait with Him. If it wasn’t a dream, why wasn’t He acting? But if His words were not true, what else was left to them?

And a man, one lone man talking a solitary walk on a bare shoreline, started to kindle a fire.

Perhaps over the salty breeze whipped the scent of fish baking among coals, and the heady, yeasty fullness of bread warming among ashes.

Maybe the fishermen didn’t notice. Or their stomachs rumbled and they grumbled curses because their own efforts to feed themselves were utterly failing.

Perhaps John, that one that lay on the bosom of God in flesh, smelled the drifting scent and remembered the Bread of Life, those words of eating and drinking of flesh and blood.

Impatient Peter, ripping nets up from the water, perhaps now threw them down in disgust. Once he could fish; now, he could neither fish nor follow. Follow what? A vision that bid only to wait, with no victory in sight?

But now—hear—a voice. That man on the shore is waving.

“Throw your nets in on the other side. The right side.”

Maybe Peter laughs, low and bitter. “All night,” he grumbles.

John, that loved one, gets a light in his eyes and motions to guileless Nathaniel, who once said he believed. Peter grunts and pulls himself off the floor of the boat to give them a hand. What will it hurt, after all?

I just wonder, how wide their eyes opened then, after a night of sleepless watching for just a scale shining among the tawny fibers of net?

I just wonder, how brilliantly that morning stole up behind them, glittering on the silvered backs of one hundred and fifty-three of the sea’s largest fish?

How that vessel must have at once exploded with shouts and jumping over cast-off clothing and dredged-up piles of sea debris in the rush for the teeming nets. Shoulders muscle-knotted with lives of labor—unable to pull up the catch. Just too many.

And then the silence. “What kind of man is this?” Did the whisper come again, like the refrain of a symphony, through lips that had once spoken it before? (Matthew 8:27)

The nets groaned with flapping, gill-gasping life. The brawny, weather-cut hands are still, open in wonder.

And life fluttered within seven disciple hearts gone limp. Peter looked at John. John’s eyes widened. “It’s the Lord.”

One book I read recounted this:

“But when Jesus came and stood in their midst, they merely had to let down their net once and such an abundance was caught that they didn’t even have room in their boat to contain it all” (Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy, page 168).

Not even room to hold it.

This abundance that fills over capacity and yet does not break the nets.

This filling that only the universe’s King can bring to a heart—and makes a dry spring overflow with life-water joy.

Maybe they had cursed their inability to feed themselves after a night of toiling, sweat-dripping fishing.

Don’t we do the same? Grind ourselves into the ground just to survive, just to eat and live.

But the man on the shore beckons to the right side.

His side, the side of right, the side of the pierced wounds.

Throw there, just there.

All of you—throw overboard all your labors, your nights of wearying, your own way of doing it.

Throw yourself too, there, at His feet.

And just see if the windows of heaven are not thrown open and your hungry mouth is filled.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

– Hebrews 4:16, NKJV –

Thank you to photographer Karen Arnold in conjunction with Public Domain Pictures.net for the fishing net image.

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